Student Invents New Way to Produce Cheap Solar Energy

A student from Al Ittihad Private School Jumeirah in Dubai has developed a technology that could eventually replace silicone components in traditional solar panels with plastic-based photovoltaic cells to produce solar energy.

“One plastic photocell on a solar panel can conduct 202 to 349 milliwatts of energy,” inventor Maryam Al Hashmi said in a news release. “Eventually all silicone-based solar panels can be replaced with these plastic photocells.”

Cost Advantage to Using Plastic to Produce Solar Energy

As silicone is more expensive than plastic, Hashmi’s discovery could pave the way for cheaper solar panels in the future.

The invention was presented during the 6th Intel Science Competition Arab World where it was awarded the top prize in the Environmental Engineering segment, as well as second prize in the Grand Awards sponsored by Intel Foundation.

Hashmi said that this concept was based on an earlier solar project from another country. “I got the idea from the YouTube viral video about solar electricity bottles being used in Phiippines. If it is being used there I was sure it could be used for this project as well,” Hashmi added. She also said that it took her a while to find the perfect material to do the job. “I can’t reveal that secret. I experimented with several chemicals to make this invention,” she mentioned.

Studies on solar energy continue to flourish in the industry, especially since the technology hasn’t really caught on yet. The imperfections of the system and the high cost of installation prevent the technology from really taking off. One of the focal points in studies includes techniques on how to increase energy efficiency, such as this new research from the University of Delaware.

[Photo courtesy of the_dead_pixel on Flickr]